You guys, I am so excited that it's 2016 and it's become somehow ever-so-slightly cool to be nerdy. Because I am overflowing with nerdiness this week.
As you know, my family was in Florida last week. And while I did do some typical 'Florida-esque' things, water parks and visits with Winter the dolphin included, my secret mission was to visit as many independent bookstores as I could while I was there and on my way home.
It wasn't as easy as I thought it might be. First of all, independent bookstores are, unfortunately, fairly far and few between. Second, I had a family to think about. My kids were on vacation! Though they are readers and love hitting our local bookstore, they were far less excited about my book store quest than I was. So I had to stick with the best, and I had to make sure the places were local to wherever we were staying. And if I happened to plan our stay around a particular bookstore or two, well, what my kids don't know won't hurt them. Regardless, I only hit four stores. But each one was amazing!
The first one I hit was Haslam's Book Store. It wasn't on my list, but my Aunt said that I had to see it and she was SO right! First of all, it's huge. And it's old—it's been around since 1933. And there are multiple rooms and thousands of items because they sell new and used titles. It's musty and overwhelming and there is at least one cat who helps 'man' the register, and, like all the bookstores on this list, I could have spent days there!
My second bookstore, also in Florida, was the one that initiated this whole idea. I was speaking to a friend at Hachette who told me about Inkwood Books in Tampa and all the great author events that they sponsor. The store is everything it was cracked up to be...an old house with tons of charm and lots of personality. Different rooms for different types of books, and lucky me...a book event! I went to hear David Kushner read from his new book, 'Alligator Candy' and it was standing room only! Unfortunately, this meant that they ran out of books, but hello? Great news for the author! Plus just hearing him speak was amazing and guess what?! Turns out he actually lives in New Jersey so I might be able to hear him speak without leaving the state next time.
The third bookstore was the E. Shaver Bookstore in Savannah, Georgia. Another house-turned-bookstore, this charming shop had everything a book lover could want, including a cat that played with my kids while I got to look around. I loved the multiple rooms—especially the kids room—and, like the other bookstores, I especially appreciated the accessibility of the shopkeepers and the book conversations we had. E. Shaver even has an attached tea shop, which I totally would have enjoyed if my kids weren't with me (but they were, and we were all coming down with a cold, and that's why I only have one picture).
The fourth and final bookstore we got to visit on our trip home was Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia. It was love at first sight, and not just because I found out that David Sedaris will be doing a speaking event with them in two weeks (I'm dying...seriously). Although Ruby was a disaster at this shop, sniffling and whining and begging me to buy her toys (toys?! toys!? It's a bookstore!), and although we may have been slightly feverish (kidding...but not really), I still managed to squeeze in a conversation with owner, Kelly Justice, and hear all about the amazing programs and events she hosts. SO wishing Richmond were just five hours closer!
If you're a book lover, and you want to talk about books, I can't recommend these four places enough. I only wish I didn't have to take a road trip to get to them...of course, the trip was half the fun!
Danielle Davies (@daniellendavies) is the creator of the internet sensation, My Life with Bradley Cooper, as well as a writer and artist living in New Jersey. Read more...
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